Faber: Evaluating every single one of the 40 prospects’ play at Canucks development camp
By Faber7 months ago
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This is always a fun one to write and dive into as I shuffle through the pages of my notes from the week and give some thoughts on each prospect who was in attendance at Canucks development camp.
No room for an intro. Let’s just hit it, and hit it hard.
There were some flashes of excellence in the 6’6″ winger’s game this past week. He has a sneaky shot that isn’t exactly consistent but every once in a while, he gets his full size and strength behind a wrist shot and it pops off his stick. He had some nice hands in tight during drills and scored a pretty goal in the shootout of the scrimmage as well. He doesn’t move with a ton of quickness but used his size well in the scrimmage — which is very important when you’re 6’6″.
Alriksson was selected in the CHL import draft on Wednesday and can now join the Guelph Storm of the OHL if he chooses.
An invite from Miami University (Ohio), Matt Barbolini fit into the group nicely, the 23-year-old didn’t look behind much in drills and also had us checking the rosters for his jersey number a few times in the scrimmage. A solid player at camp but he didn’t pop off the ice with his skill.
Arguably the best forward at Canucks’ development camp — Josh Bloom showed that he is ready for the jump to professional hockey. 20-year-old winger Bloom will be joining the Abbotsford Canucks this fall and he is strong with and without the puck. His strength was evident throughout the week and he has a good head on his shoulders. Bloom gives us Arshdeep Bains vibes, which is a very good thing.
It was a quiet week for Braeden Bowman but he was able to score the first goal in the scrimmage. He was an assistant captain of the Guelph Storm last year. There’s some size and some skill there but not enough to get us too excited. He might get an AHL contract after his OHL career.
We liked the pace that Lynden Breen plays with. He’s going to find a difficult path to pro success with his 5’9″ size but we thought he went through drills well and was in the upper echelon of speed at the camp. He showed us a couple of nice flashes of offence and put up 21 goals in 36 NCAA last year.
Yeah, I’ll be honest here, I didn’t notice Joseph Dunlap at all throughout the camp. He had 13 goals in 40 NCAA games last year though. Maybe we will see him again at next year’s camp.
The best undrafted camp invite on the ice was Christian Fitzgerald. The 21-year-old centre has great hands, good pace, and good enough size to not make it a worry. We think it was great to invite this local kid to development camp after the way that he finished his NCAA season with Minnesota Mankato — he scored 13 goals and added nine assists in his final 23 games last season.
Getting in the door with this local kid before he becomes a college free agent is good for the organization. We can see this guy being one of the top college free agents in the near future. We’d love to see this kid be added to Abbotsford’s lineup after the conclusion of his 2023-24 NCAA season.
One thing we loved about Lucas Forsell was his consistency through camp. His effort level is never questioned and he was a forechecking machine in the scrimmage. There’s a ton of hidden skill there in his game. His playmaking, which was a big reason why we liked the pick when the Canucks made it, was on display throughout the scrimmage.
This teenager looked much more advanced than some forwards at this camp and we liked watching him have intense battles with top prospects like Elias Pettersson, Tom Willander, and Jonathan Lekkerimäki. Forsell has gained a lot of muscle since last year’s appearance at camp and he is feeling very good about going back to the SHL next season.
He’s got one year left on his SHL contract — we’re curious to see if there’s a push from the Canucks to get Forsell over to Abbotsford for the 2024-25 season.
I don’t believe he participated in any of the skates that were open to the media and public but he did get on the ice with some coaches on his own time.
We were told that Daimon Gardner was injured prior to camp.
We liked Jackson Kunz’s shot at times throughout the camp but his foot speed was behind a lot of the other prospects at camp. He will need to have a big third season with the University of North Dakota after only having eight goals and three assists through his first two NCAA seasons.
An up and down week for the Canucks’ 2022 first-round pick. There were times when we marvelled at the release of his shot but there certainly wasn’t consistency throughout the week. He showed up for the scrimmage, which was great to see. He just didn’t pop on the ice like we expect a first-rounder to do.
It’s a huge year for Jonathan Lekkerimäki, as he makes the jump back into the SHL and will join D-Petey at Örebro. We will be watching closely and hoping that Lekkerimäki can find his scoring touch. He will also be a part of Sweden’s World Junior team as his country will host this winter’s WJC.
There were a few things to like about the 20-year-old centre out of the OHL. Jacob Maillet’s hands were good and he moved well. As a 6’1″ centre who put up 76 points in 67 OHL games, he will likely get an AHL contract somewhere.
The 20-year-old that was drafted in the fourth round last week impressed us throughout camp. He has very good hands and consistently beat goaltenders in drills as the week went on. Ty Mueller had two penalty shots in the scrimmage and went with a shot under the blocker on both failed attempts.
We didn’t love the Canucks using a draft pick on a 20-year-old but liked what we saw from him at camp this week. He’s a centre who plays at his best with the puck on his stick.
Lots of skill here but he’s not quite quick enough for us to get excited about him.
Didn’t see much from Matthew Perkins this week to have a strong positive take. He was there, and we will see how the 2023 fourth-round overage pick looks next season as he makes the jump to the NCAA with the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
With some good pace throughout camp, Jack Randl had some flashes that caught our attention. Not sure about his pro potential.
Lots of skill but a lack of speed from a smaller player. Not sure what to make of Colby Saganiuk.
Throughout the camp, Max Sasson was a standout at forward. He’s ready for his first full pro season and we expect him to be a top-six centre for Abbotsford this year.
We’d like to get more in-depth but he was just good at everything. Sasson was physical, had good hands, was quick, and made all the passes you want to see from a pro. He’s ready for his first full AHL season and may even get an NHL game late in the season if the team has some injuries down the middle. We want to see him become a top penalty killer in Abbotsford this year — that would give him a better shot at NHL games in the future.
Didn’t notice Cooper Walker that much this past week. He captained the Guelph Storm last year and will be a part of the Abbotsford Canucks next season.
The most noticeable player this past week was probably Dmitry Zlodeyev. You can see that he’s improved his game a lot from his time in the KHL and his pro experience stuck out throughout the week. Zlodeyev was living up to his nickname, ‘villain’. He was knocking over his opposition in drills and was by far the most physical player in the scrimmage.
Zlodyev is back to the KHL on a two-year deal but we can see him getting a call to the AHL for the 2025-26 season. He’s a pure centre who looked strong in draws during the scrimmage.
There’s a lot of raw skill in Hunter Brzusyewicz’s game but this wasn’t the best showcase week for him. He kind of got lost in the fold of the other defenceman at camp. We like the way he generates power with his edgework and he was quick to get to pucks but there’s lots of room for him to get bigger and stronger while getting more consistent with how he handles the puck.
He did have one of the stronger shots out of the defencemen. He certainly has some offensive potential and we are intrigued to watch what he does in the OHL this coming season — he may be one of the top point-producers on the backend in the league.
Brzustewicz had earned an invite to Team USA’s World Junior Summer Showcase. We will have to wait and see how much he plays for the red, white and blue — that summer showcase begins on July 21st.
In drills, he’s a leader, and during the scrimmage, he made all the simple plays and made almost zero mistakes. Aiden Celebrini is a nice little depth add to the Canucks prospect pipeline and as a right-shot defenceman — that’s exciting news.
He is a delight to talk to and has a great work ethic instilled in him — likely from his family.
The player who raised their stock the most from the scrimmage had to be Jackson Dorrington. We’ve really liked the tough, defensive defenceman this week. In the scrimmage, he was excellent with the puck on his stick and did a good job closing in on his opposition in his own zone.
Dorrington is off to the World Junior Summer Showcase in two weeks with Team USA. He’s a long shot to make USA’s world junior team but he’s off for his sophomore season at Northeastern and really impressed us with his physicality and calmness with the puck during his freshman season.
Nothing really stuck out with Christian Felton this week. He is probably the only position player we don’t have any notes on from the past week — sorry!
With the puck on his stick, Hugo Gabrielson looked very good this past week. He had an accurate shot from the point and had good footwork throughout the drills where the defencemen had to skate with the puck. He does a good job of keeping his head up with the puck on his stick and now we hope to see him have a bounce-back 2023-24 season after coming back from shoulder surgery early into last year.
Akito Hirose was good this past week. He was consistent and calm as we expected he would be.
Hirose wasn’t used that much in the scrimmage but when he was on the ice, he handled the puck well and was sturdy in his own zone.
We expect him to be a big minute muncher at the Young Stars tournament in Penticton if he attends.
It’s hard to judge Joni Jurmo as he looks incredible in certain drills but didn’t really show up in the scrimmage like you hope he would.
Chris Higgins spoke about Jurmo when he wrapped up camp with a media scrum.
“I think processing — understanding when to make a simple play or when to use his legs,” said Higgins when asked what Jurmo needs to develop this coming season. “You look at him, [he’s a] big boy [who] skates really well. He can skate himself out of trouble. It’s the next play is what we’re gonna have to focus on.”
Jurmo is set up well with his Liiga team next season and is very eager to come to the AHL after what he believes will be his final Liiga season.
Arguably the best passer of the defence at this camp, Kirill Kudryavtsev really impressed us this week. His best skills show extremely well in this type of camp environment. We expect to see Kudryavtsev be a big part of the Young Stars roster and will also see Kudryavtsev at main camp this fall before he heads back to the Soo Greyhounds in the OHL.
There are a lot of exciting pro-level skills that Kudryavtsev already possesses. He moves the puck quickly and efficiently out of his own zone and he made little-to-no mistakes in terms of passing in drills this week. He has the pro-pop on his passes and he does an excellent job receiving passes as well. There are just a lot of high-end puck skills in his toolbelt.
Kudryavtsev has a chance to be one of the best offensive producers on the backend in the entire OHL next season — he’s one to watch.
In terms of shot power, Cole McWard was the best of the defence at camp. He had a fine showing in the scrimmage but stuck out during drills where the defencemen had to fire shots from the point. He does an excellent job of playing with his head up and should be a top-four defenceman in Abbotsford to begin the season.
Expect him to be one of the horses at Young Stars and he still has an outside shot to make the NHL team out of camp but our expectation is that he’s a big piece of Abbotsford’s defence corps next season.
Sawyer Mynio isn’t necessarily the type of player who has the skills to stick out in a camp environment. He didn’t get a chance to kill penalties and we want to see how he is in a stationary defence position. His skating is fine and with added minutes next season in the WHL, he should give us a lot more tape to break down.
Mynio certainly led the prospects in smiles/60. This kid always has a big grin on his face and seems to make you want to root for him.
We will try to limit our Faberable coverage on him because you just want this smiley kid to be successful.
We always seem to compare Chad Nychuk and Quinn Schmiemann when they are on the ice together as they were both undrafted defencemen that the Canucks signed out of the WHL. This week, Nychuk was quiet. He has shown us a lot to like in the past but this week wasn’t his best performance. He kind of got lost in the shuffle with all these defencemen and didn’t stick out in the scrimmage either.
Schmiemann wins this round but Nychuk has gotten him a lot in the past.
Elias Pettersson (D-Petey) was the best defenceman at Canucks development camp.
We have been high on Elias Pettersson for a while now, even having him as the top prospect in the system during our last prospect rankings. (We will have a new top-10 in the coming weeks)
D-Petey was noticeably bigger than he was last year at development camp and there was not one weakness that we took away from his play at this camp. This kid can make all the plays, can be physical or use his stick when defending and glides around the ice with ease.
He’s still a top prospect in the Canucks’ pipeline and he should see a ton of minutes in the SHL. There’s a lot to like here and he has the potential to be on Sweden’s top pairing for this year’s World Juniors.
After a quiet week, Quinn Schmiemann came to play in the scrimmage. He was active in the offensive zone and did a great job using movement to create shooting lanes for himself and his partner. There are times when we really like Schmiemann and the scrimmage was one of those cases.
We expect him to get big minutes at Young Stars and should get more AHL games this coming season than he saw last year when he played in 31 games last year.
We only saw Jacob Truscott on the ice for day one of camp.
He looked fine but there may still be something there from his wrist injury that ended his NCAA early this past season.
Truscott is heading back to Michigan this season but will have a ‘C’ on his chest this year and he very much looking forward to being the leader of the Wolverines’ hockey program.
As much as we want to just gush over this kid like Buffalo Sabres fans are currently doing with their viewings of Zach Benson at Sabres development camp — we don’t believe that Willander was better than D-Petey this past week.
There were certainly times when Willander moves with the puck and you get very excited about him but his hands still need work before we can say that he is ready for pro hockey. It’s good that he is heading to the NCAA this fall and we expect him to be one of the top-four defencemen with Boston University.
Willander was excellent in the pure skating drills and when he was making quick cuts with the puck on his stick. He was solid defensively in the scrimmage and we enjoyed the battles he had with Forsell as the two Swedes played with such quickness.
Willander is still our top prospect in the system — this week didn’t change anything in that regard. We just see him needing some time to develop and understand that his past couple of weeks were difficult to jump right onto the ice and show well.
There are buckets of potential in this kid’s game but he is just a step behind D-Petey in terms of looking the part of a pro-calibre defenceman right now.
Apologies in advance, I’m not a goalie guy but I’ll give it my best go.
We weren’t as impressed with Aku Koskenvuo as we were last season. He’s still very big and very athletic but he didn’t necessarily wow us like he did last year.
Koskenvuo will be battling for starts next season at Harvard and we are sure that this past week with Ian Clark and Marko Torenius helped him pick up a few things before that battle at Harvard.
Not much to add here. He’s been an emergency backup goalie for the Toronto Maple Leafs and had a strong season in USports with the University of New Brunswick. We just didn’t see much with the 6’0″, 22-year-old.
He played a ton in the QMJHL last season with the Halifax Mooseheads. Mathis Rousseau is just 18 years old and is a good invite to camp. We have to believe there’s a reason he was invited here and wonder what Ian Clark sees in him.
Nikita Tolopilo was head and shoulders above the rest of the goalies this past week. This is a very long goalie and we know that Clark loves those type of goalies.
Tolopilo moves extremely well for a guy his size and seems to fit that Thatcher Demko and Arturs Silovs type of goalie that is long and very athletic. We expect him to develop a lot over the next 12 months with all the time he will get with Torenius and Clark. This kid is raw but very talented.
It was a good week for Ty Young, who was selected in the fifth round of the 2022 draft.
He is set to be the starter in Prince George next season and looks like he has built on his athleticism from last year when we saw him at development camp.
That’s a wrap on Canucks development camp.
We have some stories to write from conversations with the prospects but this puts a bow on the week in terms of team coverage. Thanks for clicking on these articles and interacting with them in the comments section or on social media.
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